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Friday, August 29, 2008

Bigger Attraction Ain't Here

- I didn't make it to the track on Friday. I hope you don't think any less of me. But we all (sans teenagers) went hiking up at Tenant Creek Falls, and we made it all the way up to the third one; a round trip of 4.2 miles I'm told. If I hadn't forgotten my camera in the car I'd post some photos, but Eileen has some I can bore you with later on. I borrowed this one on the internet. Great day despite a persistent cloud cover and my and Eileen's suffering several painful stings from some angry wasps whose home I must have unwittingly disturbed. Ow. It was an accident, y'know! Fortunately, the Head Chef remained unscathed. (She swells up really bad, and may not have been able to cook tonight.)

By the time we got back, I could have run over for the late double. But when I saw that Sinners N Saints, who I liked in the 8th, was scratched, I stayed here, popped open the wine and the laptop.

It was a lazy day at the track on Wednesday. 14,210 doesn't quite fill the place anymore, and it had a definite "last week of the meeting" feel. It must have been a bit better with over 18,000 on hand on Friday. I know that NYRA is hoping for 30,000 for Curlin on Saturday. The weather forecast, though just a possibility of a few passing showers and nothing at all dire, doesn't help. But I don't know if it would matter anyway to be honest.

I just don't sense the kind of buzz about Curlin to think that there would be a crowd of that sort this weekend even if the forecast was fine. I hope I'm wrong, and NYRA, with some help from the town of Saratoga, is doing its best to hype it up.

The Head Chef's brother Claude, here along with wife Leah and daughter Eva, is an avid sports fan. He's not a racing fan, but he's aware of the Triple Crown events, and catches them on TV from time to time. He's excited about coming to the track on Saturday, as is the entire crew, who will be looking for yours truly to achieve pari-mutuel glory. Oh man.

When I told him that Curlin was racing tomorrow, his expression couldn't have been more blank than if I had said Sarah Palin. But when, in what could be considered push-polling, I asked if he'd be more excited if Big Brown was running, he said definitely. I think his reaction is the same as I would get if I posed the same questions to any of my non-addicted fans.

For one thing, it shows how the Kentucky Derby is really the singular horse racing event as far as most people go. The Breeders' Cup Classic? I don't think it registers in the public mind much at all, even, as in this case, combined with the Preakness, a nose loss in the Belmont, and the Dubai World Cup (ha).

The other point here in my mind is that it's Big Brown who is the horse of the moment. No matter what NYRA gets here tomorrow, there's no doubt in my mind that Big Brown would have drawn at least 5,000 more. Big Brown's appeal is a very fleeting thing in our sport, given the way the economics (and, as seems the case for Big Brown, physical problems) shorten horses' careers and the short attention span of the general public. Jess Jackson said he was bringing Curlin back for the good of the sport. The good of the sport demands that he put his pride and any notion that he deserves to call the shots against his more popular rival aside, and make a meeting with Big Brown happen.


Anonymous said...

Said it before, will say it again.

We've known all along where Curlin would be, and that plan has been etched in stone since roughly about the week after the Haskell. It's Big Brown whose plans have been up in the air, and whose connections have been half-assed enough to demand that a race, any race, be written up for their horse. They have had ample time to get Big Brown ready for the Woodward if they so desired, and it would have been four weeks since the Haskell, which is sufficient time even in this day and age of racing for a horse who needed the Haskell to have recovered---since BB worked at Aqueduct this week, I don't think it's that much of a stretch to say he could have been ready in a heartbeat for the Woodward if he wanted to.

Trouble is, Big Brown's handlers don't want to. Period.

So stop blaming Jess Jackson for things that frankly are out of his control. We've known for a while he'd be starting Curlin in the Woodward, and we've known for a while only that Big Brown is looking to have a race written up for him two weeks from now. It falls on the connections whose plans aren't already set to make something like this happen, and IEAH and Dutrow simply aren't interested in anything that isn't created especially for them. You're a fascinating read and have an entertaining blog, but you remain, IMO, way offbase on this one.

Alan Mann said...

>> remain, IMO, way offbase on this one.

I know I'm going against the grain on this one. I think it's a fair point to accuse the BB team of ducking Curlin in the Woodward. Four weeks does seem like a reasonable time frame....if he's a sound horse. Which I get the feeling he's not. But in any event, with just the Haskell in hand and the Classic down the road, today is not the day for Big Brown to be brought up to a peak effort IMO. His campaign is being designed to do so in the Classic. That's the normal thing to do. What Jess Jackson is doing in skipping the BC is not normal. That's the natural race for the two to meet, and I think the fact that Curlin is apparently skipping it puts the onus back on him. Jackson has the sounder horse and the most flexibility. I don't think it would be unreasonable to ask him to go the extra mile to make this happen. And we're not even asking him to go the extra mile - just to run him in the Classic, where mostly all the champions run.

Anonymous said...

What would a Luther Forest AMD chip plant do to the Saratoga Springs area?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Alan that in of the mind of the general public, Curlin is way below the radar.
But since that's the case, it's unlikely that a Big Brown/Curlin match-up is going to do anything for the sport.
The only people who are going to care about that match-up are the people already into racing and they already know who and what Curlin is and already showing up at the track.
The way I see it, Dutrow and company had their shot and they blew it with drugs and loose shoes and now they have no intention of running BB against Curlin on dirt, and probably not on any other surface.
And I doubt that the general public really gives a rats one way of the other, so Curlin needs to do what's right for Curlin. Big Brown is already history.